Jynn Schubert | Staff Writer
Council member Kevin Roden started a slew of accusations that candidate Sara Bagheri received money from a tea party political action committee, but Bagheri’s campaign finance reports show she has not taken any money from the PAC.
Bagheri was endorsed by the group Empower Texans after completing a questionnaire sent to all of the candidates, but has not received campaign money, according to reports.
“At this point I’m like the victim of slander,” Bagheri said. “At this point I probably have a legal claim about people saying I’ve accepted money.”
Questions about how Bagheri would vote if elected started after Roden posted in Facebook group Denton Free Speech Matters that Bagheri was being supported by Empower Texans. Bagheri had an associate post in the group that she had not actually received funding.
“I don’t recall saying she got funded by them, though she is endorsed by them,” Roden said. “My concern was mainly just the fact that this large outside tea party organization was trying to get a foothold in Denton city politics.”
Glen Farris, a volunteer for Greg Johnson’s campaign and the vice president for marketing for Johnson’s company, Verus Real Estate Advisors, worried about subjects Bagheri would vote against if elected. Farris raised his concerns about Bagheri being “funded by the Tea Party” through an email sent on April 7.
“Everything outside of roads and safety will be voted against by Bagheri if she gets on council,” Farris wrote. “This includes Explorium, United Way [and] any festival or otherwise ‘non-essential’ government expenditure.”
Johnson stressed he has not seen anything so far that says Bagheri has received funding from Empower Texans.
Even after Bagheri tried to clear the record, Pete Kamp, a former mayor pro tem of Denton, sent a mass email saying Bagheri was funded by Empower Texans.
“Sara Bagheri has been endorsed and given funds by the group Empower Texans,” Kamp wrote. “They are outside of Denton big money, and instrumental in the bill that 1, wanted to take away local control and move it to Austin and 2, allow unfettered fracking inside our city.”
Roden said he is wary of Empower Texans, and he questions Bagheri’s policies.
“Whether or not [she’s] funded by Empower Texans is a side story,” Roden said. “I think the bigger question is, ‘Do we have a council candidate being supported by the biggest tea party group in Texas?’ I think a lot of UNT students will be concerned about that as well.”
Bagheri hopes these accusations will stop before they hurt her connection to her home town.
“It’s to create a perception of outside influence, to strike fear in the hearts of voters, and to diminish my [reputation],” Bagheri said. “It’s so classless.”
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